Is Cardio Better Before Or After Resistance Training?

By Russ Howe

If you are trying to maximize lean muscle growth, should you do cardio before or after weights? This question is regularly asked in gyms around the world by folks trying to learn how to build muscle quickly and today we'll answer it with the latest scientific findings.

It is not uncommon to hear a different answer each time you ask somebody for advice in the gym. That's because a lot of the health and fitness industry is built upon opinion rather than fact. There are many areas which haven't yet been scientifically researched enough and, until recently, this was one of those areas.

Thankfully, several high profile studies have now been carried out and confirmed the answer to this common gym query.

Contrary to mainstream opinion, you should be performing your cardiovascular workout prior to hitting the weights if you want to get the most out of the gym. This will surprise a few people out there, because one of the most common mistakes is to presume that you'd exhaust the muscles if you did your aerobic activity first.

Up until recently that theory made a lot of sense. However, when scientists carried out tests they found that those who performed aerobic activity prior to lifting weights actually enjoyed superior lean muscle growth as well as superior fat loss!

Even subjects who were performing HIIT got the same overall results.

This happens because of the release of two enzymes in the body during physical exercise. They are known as AMPK and mTOR. AMPK is the body's call to action to help you adjust to aerobic activity.

The second enzyme, mTOR, is the key which turns on the muscle building process after a resistance training session. The bad news is that AMPK kills off mTOR, meaning if you stay in the gym after a training session and perform prolonged cardiovascular exercise you are significantly blunting your own muscle building process. Granted you can still achieve results, but they would be significantly superior if you did things the opposite way around.

The release of mTOR signals the beginning of the muscle building process in the body, meaning this golden window lasting around one hour is a fantastic time to consume quality nutrition to enhance your results further. This period lasts a total of 6 hours, so you ideally don't want to be performing aerobic activity during this time.

This information comes in very handy for those who like to separate their workouts into two separate sessions per day. If you keep six hours between each workout you'll be able to get the full benefits of the muscle repairing process switched on by mTOR enzyme before you release any AMPK during cardiovascular activity.

When you are trying to lean how to build muscle in the gym, you'll encounter many areas which are shrouded in mystery and doubt, often coming down to little more than personal opinion. Thanks to ongoing scientific research, however, the question 'Should you do cardio before or after weights?' is no longer something which falls into this category.

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